Fathom (Bally, 1980)


Pinside rating

This game received 136 approved Pinsider ratings and currently rates 8.001 /10


Top 100 ranking

This game ranks #39 in the Pinside Pinball Top 100.

Score breakdown

Score breakdown in the 4 main categories:

Game design: 8.033

Artwork: 8.877

Sounds/Music: 6.468

Other Aspects: 8.142

Rating comments

There are 56 rating comments for this game.

Pinside staff rating

This is how we, the very knowledgeable (wink wink) Pinside.com staff & moderators rate this game. 4 of us have rated this game.


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Ranking history

An overview of this machine's ranking over the last years. Lower is better.

Rating history

An overview of this machine's rating over the last years. Higher is better.

Found 56 ratings (with comment) on this game

There are 56 ratings (that include a comment) on this game.
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14 days ago
Reminds me of an old EM machine from the 50's . I just don't get some of the 80's machines which so many hold in high regard. I played this a few times back in the 90's and remember disliking it very very much .
55 days ago
Hard to believe it's a three multiball game for this time period. Great artwork and game play, by far the best early solid state Bally game I've ever played. This is a true gem that I continue to play in my collection.
4 months ago
A beautiful game that's also fun, classic layout.
1 year ago
"Help, surface, surface – Fathom!"
Who can forget this classic Early Bally?

Greg Freres really outdid himself on this one with all aspects of artwork on the playfield and backglass.
It not a surprise the playfield and backglass have been reproduced, as the PFs were beat to $#@! on most games.
Gameplay is challenging and extremely satisfying with the inline drop targets.
Interconnected left bank target memory AKA Eight Ball deluxe which score inlines as well.
Good voice speech for the age.
Simple but memorable, "d-lup" water background tune.
Very collectible for a reason.
First price spikes were all the way back in the 2000, long before PinSide.

A must have if you like Early Bally machines, even if you have to build your own.
Collector quality examples are not going to be cheap now.
1 year ago
A stunning game with the best art package in pinball to date. It's a fast playing game for it's time and is brutally tough. The lock shots are at odd angles and are hard to consistently make. It's a game that beats you up and keeps you coming back for more. One of the few games that I prefer to be on 5 ball as it's hard to do anything on 3 ball sometimes. It is extremely addictive.
1 year ago
Fathom is one of those games that no one noticed for a long time. It was available to be picked up for a cheap bargain in fact. Then somewhere along the way, someone noticed the fantastic art package and the decent gameplay, and the price skyrocketed through the roof.

Personally, I love the way this game looks! It's beautiful. But ultimately, I'm much less impressed with how the game actually plays. I've played two copies of this game now and I felt that what looked to be a great layout left me wanting so much more. It feels clunky to me, the shots don't feel quite right, and it even lagged a bit IMO. I really wanted to love this game but ultimately the gameplay is a turn off for me.

UPDATE: Played this one a few more times recently, and I'm getting it now. It is a truly addicting game ("I was SO close to getting that multiball!!") that demands one more play. Not a huge fan of the way the early 80s Bally flipper system feels (it does feel like it lags a bit, like you have to time shots differently than other games), but that's a minor gripe. The only design flaw I can find in the layout is the shot straight to the top right bumper. Not sure what Ward could have done with that space, but that spot feels like a waste. Cool game!
1 year ago
I would love to have this machine. Beautiful game.
1 year ago
Gorgeous game. The light show is my primary beef and it isn't as fast as Sterns of the same era (I'm looking at you Dragonfist and Quicksilver). I would absolutely have one of these in my collection if the right one came along.
1 year ago
Fathom is a really good game of it has great rules, great layout, good artwork, and a weird but pretty good theme.
1 year ago
I'm still learning this table, but wow! Shots galore, and the ruleset is awesome.
1 year ago
One word, Gorgeous! Wait there's more to this this beauty than its looks. It is a great looking machine, but it's also a great player. A very highly sought after machine from a murder's row of great games from Bally during the early solid state era.

From the reverse inlane/outlane layout to the two sets of inline drop targets that lock balls at bay....and they even managed to put a spinner in there too. I wish many of the current games being made could reuse some of the ideas that this table used.

The game is a challenge, as many others from this time, so don't expect a cake walk into getting multiball, it is a chore.

The sound package does sound dated and repetitive, but that was what they had at the time.

It's too bad they didn't make more then 3,500 of these babies...since its such a classic!
1 year ago
Terrific game. Fathom keeps me coming back game after game, I can't get enough of those inline drop targets. I'm sure anyone who has seen this game would also agree that the art package is a stunner also.
2 years ago
Truly great artwork. Definitely one of the top 5 prettiest backglasses ever. I like the ball lock behind the drops. Other than that, gameplay is average.
2 years ago
Very solid and fun machine, very nice to look at overall. Love the ball locks and the stand up targets that rise afterwards, making it truly "captured". If you see it, play it.
2 years ago
The best looking IMO
Drop target in-line is great.
Just not my taste, too slow and not enough deep and entertaining.
2 years ago
This was a grail title for me when I first got into pinball & I had to hunt long & hard to obtain a nice one finally got it & while I do enjoy it & think it may be one of the most beautiful pins ever made to look at , it just isn't all that fun to play for me at least it just doesn't compare to the fast & crisp feel of newer more modern pins ..... lots of center drains & keeping multiball alive is a bit of a challenge
2 years ago
I didn't even knew the game existed until I ran across it at APE 2015. Super cool artwork, fun game play, good rules, good game flow, plenty of toys and somewhat novel ideas (trapped ball behind drop targets, outlane design) make this a very unusual but extremely enjoyable pinball experience. Rare and expensive, too bad. Otherwise I would own one. A true gem.
2 years ago
Beautiful game - cabinet, playfield, backglass - fabulous package. Wonderful ball flow, great shots, keeps you coming back for more. What else do you want in a pin?
2 years ago
This game is legit fun. Inline drop targets galore, and a three ball multi ball that feels similar to BSD's three stacked multi ball. A ridiculously awesome and beautiful machine with a very strong 'one more game' draw. One complaint I don't care for is the pop bumper being open to direct shots.
2 years ago
Ranked in the 70's? How? This is maybe the best SS game of the early 80's. Wonderful layout, shots all over the board, great "guarded" lock areas, good ruleset, and the art is amazing.

I found myself pumping quarters into this one for a straight 45 minutes. Lots of fun. If I had my choice I'd take this over almost any game, DMD or not.
2 years ago
This is one of few early SS games that I truly covet. I played an immaculate version at Stu's Emporium and couldn't get enough of it. Love the inline drop targets. Simple yet engaging rules. Very satisfying shots and a really rewarding bonus tally at the end of balls. When you get this machine Rockin, it feels like it's preparing to blast off!! Really great pin.
3 years ago
This is a good pinball at all.
3 years ago
Originality: excellent.

Art/Lights/Theme: Great. Like Centaur, there are a lot of colored inserts here. Very colorful light set. Not as many insert colors as Centaur and Embryon. Artwork and backglass are second to none. Dark theme about mermaids killing male divers. Awesome x 9000.

Sound/Callouts: I love the voice synthesizer sound from 1981. Overall, I'd say the sounds are decent. It appears this one has no control for reverb like on Centaur.

Flow: Good. However, surprisingly, there are a few "dead ball" spots on this game, which for me puts Centaur far above this pin.
1) The 1 o'clock shot just hits the right pop. A surprising use of the 1 o'clock shot, which is really powerful off the left flipper.
2) The ball can come to rest just to the top-left corner of the bottom pop.
3) I don't like when the 3rd flipper (in any game) has its tip hanging out and you can nail the tip full power off the left flipper.

Toys: good 3rd flipper, creative use of inline targets (twice) to release multi-ball.

Ball Control/Hazards: Good risk / reward balance. I would say there are any specific super-risky shots, but a LOT of balls drain in the inlanes which are hard to nudge and a LOT of balls drain SDTM. It's not a game about "risky shots" as much as it is a game about having incredible finesse and ball digging skills when the ball slows down around the flippers. It's also a bit of a shell game, when the slings take control of the ball and you may have a 1/4 second at some point to save the game. You really have to stay on your toes.

Balanced Scoring: Seems good. No big jackpots to throw things off as far as I know.

Fun/Lastability: Very hard to start multi-ball brings you back over and over. Very Difficult pin. Requires a lot of finesse and patience.

Symmetry: Zero symmetry except around the flippers. Really well done.

Pops: Excellent: All 3 can score A-B-C lanes, and two of them can burn you. Second best set of pops only to Black Hole that I've ever played.

Backhands: Excellent. All three flippers can do VERY cool things with backhand shots.

Skill Shot: none!

Pros: Astonishing overall art package. Feels so good to be in front of this machine. Super touch on all plays to manage your drops in the right order. Great layout overall. If the multiball mode is more fun/manageable overall, then this game is tied for 2nd best ever with Centaur and Black Hole.

Cons: TOUGH play during multiball, 2nd ball drains quickly. (Some day I may have the skill to manage it) Overall the space feels a little bit cramped.
3 years ago
Kinda slow and boring
3 years ago
There are 56 ratings (that include a comment) on this game. Currently showing results page 1 of 3.

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